For Assessment – 2. Research – Spectacle Artefact

It was expected that the Spectacle artifact would involve playing with reality, and it would draw inspiration from one of the theories presented in the module – either from Debord or Baudrillard.

The Urban Habitats piece was informed by one very specific quote from ‘The Society of the Spectacle’ by Guy Debord:


The development of capitalism meant the unification of irreversible time on a world scale. Universal history became a reality because the entire globe was brought under the sway of this time’s progression. But a history that is thus the same everywhere at once has as yet amounted to nothing more than an intrahistorical refusal of history. What appears the world over as the same day is merely the time of economic production time cut up into equal abstract fragments. Unified irreversible time still belongs to the world market and, by extension, to the world spectacle.

(Debord 1994)

The concept of time in the context of spectacle and modern capitalism – what a perfect combination! Indeed, looking at time had always been a central interest, and it was decided early on the piece would be building upon this idea. Thinking about time and how it is represented in visual media, a few references came to mind to explore further – The Matrix and the déjà vu concept of reversible, repetitive time (in the case of the film, it’s a bug in the constructed reality); and the series of urban landscapes in the film Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance, where the footage would be sped up / slowed down, and edited together in repeating sequences that accentuate the meaning.

Indeed, a lot of other films exploring the modern city use a similar style of visual composition, playing with perception and reality. A further example looked at was the film Equilibrium, where the city is again a spectacular character. A more minimal example was a short film ‘Little Big Berlin’ where techniques such as the Tilt Shift effect (creating a very shallow depth of field, thus giving the impression the subjects are miniature models, questioning the scale and realism of the city). Another interesting effect used in this particular piece was the vignette, which in combination with Tilt Shift gives a very surreal look to the film.

A big gap in the research was not looking enough at specific ways to actually make the idea – there would be lots of interesting visual references, techniques and tricks, but the research turned out to be too narrow and not informing any further development of the idea. Furthermore, no specific research into the ‘concept’ side of the idea was made, thus hindering the execution even more.

The final piece is a reflection of insufficient research, preparation and planning. It showed clearly that when an idea hasn’t been developed properly, it just doesn’t work. In reflection, this is especially painful in the context of the two other artifacts, which have much stronger concepts, have been better thought through, and both use simple yet effective means of creating impact. It would have been more beneficial to scrap the epic idea for Spectacle and do something simpler and more effective instead, definitely a lesson for future projects.


Debord, G. (1994) La Societe du spectacle; The Society of the Spectacle, trans. D. Nicholson-Smith, New York: Zone Books

pilpop (2010) Little Big Berlin. [online] available from <; [29 November 2012]

Reggio, G. (2003) Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance. S.l.: MGM Home Entertainment

Wachowski, A & L. (1999) The Matrix. [online] available from <; [29 November 2012]

Wimmer, K. (2002) Equilibrium. [online] available from <; [29 November 2012]


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